My Korean Kraze

•September 16, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The start of my personal Korean craze began on my last year in college due to the influence of a good friend. I considered watching the series (especially Meteor Garden when it was at the peak of its popularity) a complete waste of time. I always see the protagonist crying about some lost love or people slapping each other, and it seemed too melodramatic for my tastes.

My good influencer friend was also my thesis mate, and it was during one of our overnight sessions at her house that I watched my first Korean movie, “My Sassy Girl.” I found it nice, and it sparked an interest in me, but only because movies were shorter than series, and I could spare two hours for that.

On another overnighter, we started watching the series, “My Girl.” I instantly had a Korean crush, and I was hooked on the story. When we were finalizing our thesis, we stayed for a weekend at her house and completed another drama, “Snow Queen.” From that time on, I would borrow a series to watch at home, from “Goong” to “Full House.”

After graduating, we seldom met and I stopped watching. I’m not sure how I started again, but I did. This time, I would borrow from whomever or watch through online streaming (which is such a hassle). Eventually, I had dreams of going to Korea to see the filming locations, see the culture, and eat samgyeopsal.

That dream became a reality when a promo came up for a flight to Incheon. My friends and I grabbed it, and I started planning the trip even though our departure was more than 6 months away. We went, we came back, and I am missing it.

There’s just something about Korea that’s so different (history meets the future). I don’t think of living there (unlike Taiwan), but I dream of going back every season (especially autumn and winter). On our bus ride to the airport for our return to Manila, I just stared out the window and imagine a tear falling because I was already missing the place. It’s something that can’t be described, but has to be experienced personally.

My next posts will be all about our trips once I have time to compose them. =D Korea, I am missin’ you. Link below is our ‘theme song’ for the trip. Lol.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZMTpvW5SR8

Beautiful Bohol (Days 3 and 4)

•August 29, 2012 • 1 Comment

*For the first part, check out http://rach124jc.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/beautiful-bohol-days-1-and-2/

Day 3

We went on the infamous Choco Tour for our third day. First stop was the blood compact (sandugo) site where Legazpi met with Sikatuna and formed a treaty of friendship.

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We passed by one of the oldest churches in the island made of stone and stuck together using egg whites. We didn’t go down to see it so I only caught a glimpse.

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Next we went to the dreaded sanctuary of the largest python alive in Asia – Prony! Fortunately, he was sleeping so I was able to get a few shots in (albeit looking scared).

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It was funny because Prony had a pet bird who hopped left to right and back on its stand. After we all took our pics, there was another tourist who took his turn. While he was posing, the bird suddenly flew down to the ground and the tourist almost panicked because it might wake the snake. When the caretaker picked up the bird and put it back on its stand, it flew around again, and the tourist almost ran out of the cage in panic. Good thing it wasn’t me.. =| Freaky!

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Another highlight of the python sanctuary was the animal show. See picture below. Lol.

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We went to Xzootic Animal Park next for pictures with two other pythons! These were smaller but still considered huge…and they can be touched or laid on. Fortunately, they didn’t really mind. I also held a, uh, komodo dragon was it? Some kind of iguana or komodo dragon. Coolers!

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After all the excitement, we headed to the Loboc River for a cruise with buffet lunch. I loved the breeze, the food (shrimps and crabs, yum!!!), and the view. It was so relaxing I just wanted to lie down and read a book or sleep. Ahhhh, the refreshing island breeze…zzzz.

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As if we couldn’t get enough of an adrenaline rush, we went to the Loboc Eco Adventure Park – zipline time again! I still couldn’t get over my fear of heights so only my brother went on the ride. I feel  a little regret after though because it seemed fun. Lol.

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My fear of heights was tested again because we went to visit the Buko King! However, to get to him, we needed to cross a looooooong hanging bridge constructed from bamboo. After a couple of steps, I slipped a bit on the smooth bamboo and that’s when I started panicking and it took me forever to cross the bridge. Aside from the heat, the fear made me sweat so much!

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The Buko King is actually quite famous, having able to peel the husk of a coconut husk using his mouth!

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He demonstrated this to us and we drank fresh buko juice afterwards to refresh ourselves.

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While drinking, I overhead another tourist say that she had a challenge crossing the hanging bridge but discovered it would be easier to cross if you step on the perpendicular bamboo strips. I took this advice to heart and was able to cross effortlessly on the way back. Mission accomplished! I salute a thank you to that lady for her help.

Finally, we arrived at the Tarsier Conservation Area where we saw… wait for it…. tarsiers! :D As these primates are nocturnal, most of them were sleeping. There was one who woke up because a group ahead of us made a lot of noise so we were able to shoot pictures of him with his full, big eyes. A few seconds later, we were probable not considered threats so its eyes started to droop slowly. So cute!

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We got back into the car and encountered a part along the way where there were so many trees that the sunlight could only filter through in fragments. This is the Bilar man-made forest area, a project of the government before where every ROTC student had to plant a tree. There were so many trees planted so near each other that it seemed eerie and dark even when the sun was actually blazing hot.

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Another thirty minutes later and we reached the Chocolate Hills top viewing spot. We stayed here for a while taking a lot of pictures (with the expected jump shots and sitting-on-a-broom shot).

After taking a short refresher break at the hotel, we had dinner at Café Atanacio located in the Bohol Tropics Resort. End of the full third day!

Our last day was more relaxing. Woke up later than usual to recharge from a few late nights. We headed to Hinagdagan Cave, which is pretty much dead as the limestone have turned to black from misuse. The fun part was the tour guide – full of wit and humor. He was also an expert at directing shots and using our cameras for the best color balance shots! Amazing!

After the cave, we headed to the Bohol Bee Farm where we learned about herbs and bees. It was interesting to note how many uses herbs have (and I thought of personal project regarding that…) and to learn new facts about bees. We were then given an opportunity to hold a frame holding a colony of bees.

Aside from these spots, we went to my uncle’s planned subdivision lots and the convention center, his beach resort, and pig farm. We then took a late lunch at Gerarda’s, highly recommended for their ambiance (ancestral house converted to restaurant) and Filipino dishes (try the kare-kare soup, crispy tadyang, pinaupo na manok, and kawali in gata). Afterwards, we had dessert at The Buzz Café of the Bohol Bee Farm.

This trip to Bohol may have seem short, but it was so packed that I felt it wasn’t a trip wasted. All that I wanted to see I saw; the most important landmarks and tourists spots I was able to go. If I go back, I’ll only prioritize Mag-aso Falls and the Sea Tour (Virgin Island, Balicayon Island, etc). Otherwise, Bohol is check!

Beautiful Bohol (Days 1 and 2)

•August 28, 2012 • 2 Comments

I was struck by the beauty of Bohol even while we were still on the plane. I have a habit of looking out at the clouds and eventually the land and sea during the ride. Usually, when I go to the province, I see more brown than green. But for Bohol, everything was green (trees and grass). But we’ll delve into that later. I’ll just let the pictures and descriptions speak for themselves.

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View of the Chocolate (Mint for now?) Hills

Day 1/Arrival

We booked the midmorning flight so we arrived at Tagbilaran around 4pm. After checking in at the hotel, we went to the Island City (IC) Mall to buy pasalubong and relax a bit. We had dinner at Rai Rai Ken before heading to Loboc to watch a mini concert.

The concert is done every Friday and Saturday night at the Loboc Tourism Area. The performers are elementary and high school scholars working to be able to go to college. Their show was actually amazing and I loved the songs (movie themes, jazz, ballads, etc). I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them because they played for more than an hour straight with no intermission, but their performance made me wish I was sitting at a candlelit table for two chilling with a boyfriend or close friend. :) Lol.

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Some of the students.

Day 2

Our second day saw us getting up early to take the two-hour trip to the Danao Adventure Park. Ideally, one would stay here from morning to afternoon, riding the zipline, going river trekking and doing the rapids, caving, rappelling, doing the plunge (similar to bungee jumping), and other “adventurous” activities. We only went there to do the caving. I have always wanted to be a spelunker and as Bohol has a lot of caves to offer, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

When we got there, there were two caves to explore – moderate and expert. Since it was my first time to really do caving and my mom was there, we decided to go for the moderate one. It was crazy fun! The cave was hidden on the side of a mountain so we had to climb up and over, sort of rappel down a rope, and climb down again using the rocks as ledges. Inside the cave, we had to crawl, slosh through water, even go underwater, and pretty much crabwalk to avoid the stalactites. It was LOADS of fun; maybe when we go back I’ll try the expert cave. Haha.

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Stalactites (loooooong ones)

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Scary formation.

Along the way, we passed by Sagbayan Peak, a spot where one can take pictures with some of the largest chocolate hills as the background. There was a small tarsier sanctuary there where we got our first glimpses of the cute primates.

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View of the hills from Sagbayan Peak.

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Tarsier!!!

In the afternoon, we headed to Loon, where we met the mangrove macaques. These macaque monkeys are different in that they live in/near the water instead of on top of trees. As we were walking along the bridge, when a monkey saw the guide, it called out to the others and they all started flocking toward us. Scary! Good thing the guides were there to shoo them away. It was cute watching them grab and beg for bananas.

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Patiently waiting…

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Banana for me!

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Scrape, scrape…

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Mangroves and trees where the monkeys live.

Mommy and baby.

That night, we went to Panglao Island, where resorts and hotels are so clustered together one has so many options when planning to go there. Along the shore, restaurants were lined up (similar to Boracay), so we took a stroll after dinner and watched the waves, the people, and fire dancers. A perfect island nightcap.

**Part 2: http://rach124jc.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/beautiful-bohol-days-3-and-4/

Alternate Hobby

•July 16, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Just last week, a colleague of mine left us. Three days before his scheduled last day, one of his closest friends approached me asking for help to make a farewell presentation. I was hesitant at first because I could not think of a concept/theme/etc and I only had a few days (2!!!) to plan the whole thing. 

Fortunately, another colleague thought of using one of his favorite songs and turning it into a music video. For some reason, I felt it doable and decided to give it a go. Total time used to collect each short clip took about a full shift. We walked around the hotel, accosting people, pushing them to act/sing/lip sync. It was tiring, but fun! 

The video editing was another story. While others were too busy to be videoed, I started compiling and correlating the clips to the song. Crazy work – took me a scattered 6 hours, for a novice Movie Maker user! 

I’m proud of the results, though! The people I work with are great! Here’s the complete product:

Stay or Leave – Maynard - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d90_Z4GHD7Y&list=HL1342446083&feature=mh_lolz

 

And… just to plug, the first vid I “choreographed.”

E+K: Ingredients for a Happy Marriage - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRJUoQN6BnY&feature=relmfu

I am ME.

•July 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I am a Rachel. I am THE Rachel. I am the epitome of a Rachel. I am Reliable, Adept at a lot of things, Competent and Competitive, Honest and Hardworking, Effervescent, and Laid-back. I love travelling, I love learning new things, and I love reading. I’m perfectly happy with a good book or two, a rainy day, a soft, bouncy couch with lots of pillows, popcorn or chips and root beer, and jazz playing in the background. 

 

As I was in the jeepney tonight on the way home, my mind started wandering in different directions and I suddenly thought of how I would answer if I were to “sell” myself. I mean, I am working in sales and marketing, and I have never been asked this question, but I suddenly thought of starting out my answer the way I wrote typed in this post. I can elaborate some more but I’d rather keep the thoughts to myself for now.

 

Another random thought I had while composing this blog entry in my head was that I wished for a technology that would transmit my thoughts directly into the computer so that everything would be remembered. It’s been more than an hour since I “bred” this topic and I’ve forgotten some of the points I wanted to include. Oh well.

 

Personal missions: blog at least one a week. Ha.

Mini Manila Adventure

•February 7, 2012 • 3 Comments

Last year I received a Christmas gift in the form of an overnight stay at the Manila Hotel for one night — what better way than to spend it with my family!

We finally found a date where everyone was available and after weeks of excitement, we were there! Being the curious traveler that I am, I checked out Google for “travel tips” when in Manila. Despite living here for more than 10 years now, I have never strolled along Roxas Boulevard or see the gardens in Luneta Park. I had also just recently heard of the KM 0 mark — where all maps supposedly use as the center of Manila. For example, if the map states that Quezon City is 14 km (<– random figure!!) from Manila, the point starts at the KM 0 marker.

So, after searching, I invited my family to go out to Luneta Park to explore and just walk around. Just before sunset, we set out. While walking from the hotel, I tried to imagine myself as a tourist. I've strolled through many streets in different countries and if I try to ignore the exhaust coming from the cars, I can almost see Manila as a popular city destination.

Our first stop was the KM 0 marker, which I immediately found (thanks to a previous blog post). I can imagine it being unnoticed as it is near the main road and faces it.

It’s sad that I don’t have a shot of the marker with the “M” on it. Wow. Amazing what people actually steal here. If someone ever chooses to steal the remaining letter and number, no one would recognize the marker. It’ s bit hilarious.

So we crossed the street and walked around Luneta Park.

I read that we actually have a Japanese and Chinese garden (surprise, surprise) and since the entrance fee was only P5, I begged everyone to go in with me.

Our tickets to the garden.

It was funny because the tickets states “Japanese Garden” but the arch marking the entrance had Chinese characters all over it and there was a memorial inside the garden celebrating Filipino-Chinese friendship/cooperation. Weird.

Entrance to the Chinese...errr, Japanese Garden.

Sooo.. there was nothing special in the gardens. It was a bit dirty. The lake (pond?) was green and unappealing, there were trash everywhere, and most of all, couples! The garden was full of couples lying in the grass you had nowhere to step on. Seeing we are Chinese, they must have thought we were tourists and we had to endure several stares. Ugh.

After going around the garden, we headed back to Roxas Boulevard, crossed the street again, and headed for the Hotel H20 where I suggested we eat dinner. The sun was already setting…

Sunset on the park.


…and by the time we got to the hotel, it was almost dark. I had eaten at Makansutra before with my officemates, but to my surprise, it has been changed to Makan Makan Asian Village. We had a great dinner before heading back to our hotel to rest.

Despite knowing our tourist spots are not well-maintained, take time to explore them. I remember enjoying riding a kalesa around Intramuros listening to the driver talk about the old buildings that use to stand. It’s my hope that I can visit other famous landmarks and wondrous sights of nature within the Philippines soon.

An Amazing Post-Christmas Present

•January 1, 2012 • 2 Comments

Being an avid reader, I’ve encountered so many true-to-life experiences, whether they are fiction or not. One particular uncommon incident involves usually writing a letter in high school or college to oneself in the future. In one particular story, the letters were kept by the teacher and sent to each individual ten years after.

Amazingly, this happened to me.

My mom called me up one day to chat and she suddenly mentioned that I had received a letter from the US. I was shocked and my mind went into overdrive with pictures and names running through my head – my classmates from Glenside Weldon? (I had no ongoing communication with any of them)

one of my best friends from Philadelphia? (She was touring Asia last we talked so it was not her)

a possible college or university I applied for before? (They replied too late)

My mom even went as far to mention a pen pal boyfriend. I was like, What??? No way. I’m not into pen pals now and whaaat??? It seemed too ludicrous. Lol. She said the writing seemed childish (or “pangit”) so I was kept in the dark until I got home.

Here’s the envelope (address blacked out!):

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I did not recognize the handwriting and there was no return address. I never figured out what it was until I actually read the contents! I was so weirded out because the envelope contained one single sheet of notebook paper, and the letter was badly written (in my opinion). But, amazingly, my memories of this letter came back in a rush.

It was June 1999. It was my last month and last year in the US. Our family was returning to the Philippines after two years. I was finishing 5th grade under the tutelage of Mr P, my favorite teacher ever. He taught me how to write a masters-worthy paper (I was so proud of my Walt Disney biography paper and environmental pollution paper), influenced me to read, and introduced me to Harry Potter. I was a teacher’s pet that whole year.

Being a new Asian student with limited English, I didn’t have a lot of friends. I always made up excuses to stay in the classroom during recesses and lunch breaks because I didn’t want to feel lonely. My most memorable times that year was borrowing books from Mr P’s mini-library (Goosebumps and Fear Street were my favorite books; RL Stine my favorite author then) and Mr P’s reading time – when he would pick a book and read it out loud to us while we sat in chairs and on the floor around him. It was the life.

Anyway, one day, he told us to write a letter to ourselves after ten years. We were to tell our after-ten-years-selves what we were doing and how we envisioned ourselves when we finally read the letter. That time, I never thought I would actually receive the letter. It’s really awesome that the letter actually arrived – good thing we didn’t move around in the Philippines.

So my first two paragraphs went like this:

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I joined a competition for fifth and sixth-graders with my then best buddy, Louis. I think we won because I remember getting a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble I think. Anyway, it’s just funny that after more than ten years, I really did get this letter. I wonder if it was Mr P who really sent it.

This is something I will definitely treasure — a memento from my life in Pennsylvania and from being a fifth grader under the best teacher ever.=D

 
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